Carlo Ancelotti does not care if Real Madrid's critics pin their achievements on the prodigious scoring feats of Karim Benzema.

Goals win titles, and Madrid are well on their way to landing another LaLiga crown, while they are through to the semi-finals in the Champions League too.

Benzema has 38 goals from as many games this season, plus 13 assists, with those strikes coming at one every 85 minutes.

Madrid's next highest scorer is Vinicius Junior who has managed 17 goals in 43 appearances, with Marco Asensio next on the list after scoring 10 times.

This has been a career-best season for Benzema to date in terms of those goal numbers, with the 34-year-old Frenchman thriving on the responsibility of taking over the captaincy from Sergio Ramos.

Ancelotti sees Benzema's outstanding input as a major factor, but far from the only reason Madrid could end the season basking in trophy glory.

"We have a very important objective, and we are focused on this," Ancelotti told reporters ahead of Sunday's clash with Sevilla.

"I don't care if they say we played well or badly, I care that the team can compete until the end and fight to win titles.

"We are focused on that, which is reality. They can say that we are the top scorers because we have Benzema, and it's true, but that's only one of the truths.

"The reality is that we want to win, and we are fighting to win titles. The rest doesn't matter."

Ancelotti said Madrid have managed to recharge after the gruelling second leg of their Champions League quarter-final against Chelsea, when a 3-2 defeat after extra-time saw Los Blancos sneak through 5-4 on aggregate.

They tackle third-placed Sevilla at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan, with Benzema having often struggled to make a telling impact in this particular fixture.

He has scored eight goals in 21 LaLiga games against Sevilla but only one in 10 such fixtures away from home. Only at Camp Nou, where he has played 13 matches and managed just one goal, has Benzema played more away games with so few goals scored in the competition.

Ancelotti will hope he improves that record as Madrid, holding a 12-point lead at the summit, attempt to close in on the title.

"We need to win and add points, because LaLiga is not yet won," Ancelotti said.

"Everyone is waiting for Real Madrid to suffer a puncture, and hopefully that doesn't come, because LaLiga is not over. Every game can be a trap."

Carlo Ancelotti likened Luka Modric to Paolo Maldini as he declared the veteran midfielder would end his career at Real Madrid – also insisting he has no problem with Toni Kroos.

Ahead of a trip to Sevilla on Sunday, Ancelotti spoke glowingly about both midfielders who have put Madrid in a strong position to strike for LaLiga and Champions League glory.

There was a flash point between Ancelotti and Kroos in Tuesday's Champions League clash with Chelsea, when the former Germany international was substituted and was reported to have insulted the coach as he left the field.

Ancelotti stressed that was soon defused, meaning there seems no danger of Kroos and Modric not starting in tandem when league leaders Madrid tackle third-placed Sevilla.

With Madrid edging through to the European semi-finals after extra time, despite losing 3-2 at the Santiago Bernabeu, Ancelotti's decision to bring on Eduardo Camavinga in Kroos' place proved to be justified.

The change had come with Madrid 2-0 behind and facing possible elimination. Modric played the full 120 minutes, and the 36-year-old remains as influential as ever at the heart of the team.

Addressing the Kroos kerfuffle, Ancelotti said on Saturday: "His gesture didn't bother me. He was angry with the coach but not with the person.

"As well as in sport, he is a person with a very high level. I don't need to talk to him or ask for explanations. It's all over after the game."

Kroos, 32, and Modric have been the beating heart of the Madrid midfield, and that is set to remain the case into next season.

Although Modric is now in the veteran stage of his career, Ancelotti sees that as a positive rather than a weakness.

"I think he's going to finish his career here, I don't know when but that's everyone's idea," Ancelotti said. "There is no problem for the club, neither for us nor for him to renew, that is quite clear.

"He takes great care of himself, in his career he has not had any major injuries and that helps him a lot."

Making the Maldini comparison, Ancelotti said: "I had a football legend, who won the last Champions League at the age of 40. If I have to compare him with anyone, it would be with him: for the quality, for the seriousness, for how he understands football. They are legends."

Ancelotti coached Maldini at Milan, having previously played in the same team as the defender who went on to make 902 appearances for the Rossoneri.

Maldini was in fact 38 when he helped Milan to the fifth European Cup/Champions League of his career, but he played on until the age of 40.

Madrid head into Sunday with a 12-point lead at the top of LaLiga, with Barcelona and Sevilla their nearest challengers but both surely now playing for second place.

Ancelotti, appointed for a second spell at Madrid last June, has won six of his seven games as coach against Sevilla in all competitions (L1).

Sevilla, meanwhile, have failed to win any of their past six meetings with Real Madrid in LaLiga (D1 L5), their worst winless run since a 15-game stretch between May 1993 and April 2003 (D2 L13), which is the longest such barren sequence they have suffered against Los Blancos in the competition’s history.

Sevilla and Real Madrid were title rivals when they last met in LaLiga back in November.

Then, as is the case now, Madrid led the table, but Sevilla were just two points back in third having played the same number of games. Optimism was growing for a genuine title fight.

But the team the capital from behind to win 2-1 through a late Vinicius Junior goal and have since opened a significant gap to Sevilla.

Including the three earned at the Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid have collected 10 more points than Sevilla in the intervening period.

Now, as the sides prepare to face off again at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, Carlo Ancelotti's men – fresh from reaching the Champions League semi-finals – look to be coasting towards a 35th championship.

Even victory for Sevilla would only close the deficit to nine points with six games to play – and such a result feels highly unlikely based on recent history.

One-sided recent rivalry

Perhaps discussion of a tussle at the top earlier in the season was premature given Madrid's dominance of this fixture in the past few seasons.

Defeat at the Bernabeu was Sevilla's fifth in six league matches against Madrid, with their other encounter in that run a draw.

Indeed, this is their worst winless run against Madrid since a sequence of 15 games between May 1993 and April 2003 – 13 of which were losses. That was Sevilla's longest such streak against Madrid in LaLiga history.

 

Away day success in Andalusia 

This miserable stretch for Sevilla has included consecutive home defeats to Madrid, who are now bidding to win three in a row away from home in this fixture for the first time since a run of four ended in November 1996.

Those past two Madrid victories have been by 1-0 scorelines, meaning they could become only the third team in LaLiga history to win three in a row at Sevilla without conceding after Barcelona in March 1961 (three matches) and Celta Vigo in November 2003 (four).

Madrid have enjoyed recent trips to Andalusia as a whole, winning on their past seven visits. This is their best ever such run in LaLiga.

Los Blancos have scored in 31 of their past 32 league matches in the region (W24 D2 L6) for 78 goals in total at a rate of 2.44 goals per game.

Can ex-flop Lop stop the rot?

The match in November was Sevilla coach Julen Lopetegui's 100th in LaLiga, but it should have come as no surprise that it did not come to plan. His career rarely has when Lopetegui has become entwined with Madrid.

His Spain tenure was ended prematurely when he agreed to join Madrid as coach on the eve of the 2018 World Cup – a decision that panned out for nobody.

Lopetegui oversaw just six wins in 14 matches in all competitions before he was sacked after a 5-1 defeat to rivals Barcelona. His win rate of 42.9 per cent was the second-lowest among all Madrid coaches to oversee multiple games.

As evidenced by the result in November, things have scarcely improved for Lopetegui where Madrid are concerned since his dismissal.

He has overseen five of the six matches in Sevilla's winless run in this fixture, with the four defeats tied for his most against any team in LaLiga – along with Barca, of course.

On the other hand, opposite number Ancelotti has won six of his seven games against Sevilla as a coach, including two victories in finals, winning the UEFA Super Cup with Milan in 2007 and Madrid in 2014.

Benz at his best while Martial flounders

It was hoped the January signing of Anthony Martial would boost Sevilla's title hopes, yet his only goal in their colours so far came in the Europa League against Dinamo Zagreb.

There has been just a single assist in LaLiga, too, meaning Martial is still waiting for his 100th goal involvement in Europe's top five leagues two months on from his 99th – that tee-up for Rafa Mir against Elche.

 

This underwhelming form stands in stark contrast to that of compatriot Karim Benzema, who has 38 goals in 38 games in all competitions this season, with only Robert Lewandowski matching his 51 goal involvements among players in Europe's top five leagues.

Benzema has eight goals in 21 LaLiga games against Sevilla, although he has scored just once in 10 visits to the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan. Only at Camp Nou (one goal in 13 games) has he played as many games while scoring so few goals.

Of all the seasons to improve that return, though, this is surely the one.

Manchester City or Atletico Madrid will have to overcome "the magic" of the Santiago Bernabeu if they are to defeat Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-finals.

Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti credited the club's stadium and supporters for their role in a gripping quarter-final tie with holders Chelsea.

The 13-time European champions again had to rally in a second-leg comeback, albeit this time after holding a first-leg lead.

Madrid beat Paris Saint-Germain 3-1 at home with a Karim Benzema hat-trick after losing 1-0 away, but this time returned to Spain with a 3-1 advantage from Stamford Bridge – again courtesy of three goals from Benzema.

However, Ancelotti's men were heading out when Chelsea took a 3-0 lead on Tuesday, before Rodrygo's equaliser from an outstanding Luka Modric assist took the game to extra time.

Unsurprisingly, Benzema had the final say, netting his fifth Champions League goal against Chelsea and 13th against English opposition (second only to Lionel Messi's 27).

After guiding Madrid to a 31st European Cup or Champions League semi-final – 11 more than any other side – Ancelotti praised first his players and then the fans.

"We've got through because we showed the energy, particularly towards the end of the game to keep ourselves in it," he said. "All of the players stood up and were counted and it was a tough night.

"We didn't deserve to be 2-0 down. We struggled on set pieces because we were missing our best player in that department, who is [Eder] Militao, and what's more, their first goal came from a rebound.

"We didn't show the desire to score goals and, after going 2-0 down, the team suffered mentally.

"I can't explain any of the rest of it. The magic of this stadium helps the players to never give in.

"At no stage did I think that it was over, particularly because we were playing here at the Bernabeu. It's difficult to put it into words, but this magic spurs you on.

"It helped to give the whole team that energy boost to get through to the semi-finals."

On the pitch, defender Nacho certainly felt that, with Madrid relying on the crowd despite the experience of their oldest ever Champions League starting XI.

"It was yet another incredible night at the Bernabeu," the Spain international said. "It looked like it was going to be a real uphill struggle for us, but the team produced an amazing reaction to progress through to the semi-finals.

"It's similar to the PSG game. It gives you goosebumps every time you witness a night like that at the Bernabeu.

"What's important for us is that we're in the next round. We've got to be a lot better from the start. We're playing for Real Madrid and we're taught from a young age that you never give up.

"A lot of people were waiting to see us fail against PSG. When the result was against us today, a lot of people doubted us. But this club's DNA never gives up. We showed that again. We have completed our objective".

Luka Modric described Real Madrid's 3-2 loss to Chelsea on Tuesday that sent them through the Champions League semi-finals as a "defeat that is very sweet."

An uncharacteristically poor performance that led to a 3-1 loss in the first leg at Stamford Bridge meant Chelsea had the proverbial mountain to climb at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Yet the Blues took a 3-0 lead on Tuesday, putting them up 4-3 on aggregate, before Eduardo Camavinga's substitution for Toni Kroos and Modric's sublime assist for Rodrygo changed the complexion of the game and tie. Karim Benzema's goal in extra time eventually separated the two sides.

The Croatia international said afterwards that, given his familiarity with Chelsea, he knew the return leg was not going to be routine.

"We knew after the first leg that we will have a tough game, because for me, they [Chelsea] are the most difficult team to play against," Modric told BT Sport. "I watch them a lot because of my friend Mateo [Kovacic] and they are a very tough, physical team, very compact and we knew it was going to be tough.

"In the end, we showed great character, great desire, great togetherness and we managed to turn it around, which is amazing. A defeat that is very sweet."

Tuesday's game resembled the first leg in last year's Champions League semi-final between the two, with Chelsea pressing intensely and piercing through in transition.

Thomas Tuchel's side dictated a very high tempo early, but Madrid were able to feel their way through the game, making sufficient adjustments and gaining momentum late.

"Unbelievable to describe this game. We were dead until the goal we scored," Modric said. "Chelsea scored three good goals, maybe the first goal was a bit lucky with the deflection, but I cannot say that we played a bad game."

According to Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti, his side levelling on aggregate took momentum away from Chelsea, while also saving particular praise for the 36-year-old Ballon d'Or winner.

"The changes were important, in retrospect I must say that with the goal of 3-1, they took a good blow on a psychological level," he said.

"Modric was amazing with that assist, from there we build the second goal and then we managed."

The Champions League quarter-final second legs are here, and the competition's two most recent winners must overcome first-leg deficits to reach the final four on Tuesday.

Defending champions Chelsea were downed by a stunning Karim Benzema hat-trick at home to Real Madrid, who are bidding to be crowned European champions for a 14th time.

Bayern Munich, meanwhile, suffered a shock reverse at Unai Emery's Villarreal, who will surely require a remarkable defensive performance to keep the free-scoring Bundesliga leaders at bay in Bavaria.

Here, Stats Perform unpacks the pick of the data from Tuesday's crucial European ties. 

Real Madrid v Chelsea: Benzema brilliance puts hosts in driving seat

Benzema's Stamford Bridge hat-trick has put Los Blancos on the brink of a semi-final spot, and he will be looking to continue his incredible European campaign when Chelsea try to overcome a 3-1 deficit in Spain.

After hitting consecutive European trebles, Benzema's tally of 11 goals is a new record for the most strikes by a French player in a single edition of the competition, and matches his record across the last two editions combined (he scored six goals in 2020-21 and five in 2019-20).

The 34-year-old's understanding with Vinicius Junior caused Chelsea all sorts of problems in London, and the duo have now assisted each other a combined five times in the Champions League this term (Vinicius providing four assists, Benzema one), the most of any two team-mates in the competition.

Carlo Ancelotti will qualify for the semi-finals for a record eighth time if Madrid can maintain their advantage against his former employers, equalling Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho.

Chelsea, meanwhile, are making their first trip to the Santiago Bernabeu in European competition, and must become the first English side to win a Champions League game there by more than one goal to have any chance of progressing.

Goalkeeper Edouard Mendy's costly mistake at Stamford Bridge has left the Blues on the brink of an exit, with his dire pass to Benzema representing his first error leading directly to a goal in 20 appearances in the competition.

Chelsea may be encouraged by the fact they have not lost both legs of a Champions League tie since going down to Bayern Munich in 2019-20's last 16, and have won three and drawn two of their last six meetings with Los Blancos.

However, with Madrid progressing from nine of their previous 10 ties after winning an away first leg (the exception being a 5-3 aggregate loss to Ajax in 2019), Chelsea look unlikely to revive their title defence.

 

Bayern Munich v Villarreal: Emery eyes landmark success against Bavarian giants

Elsewhere, Bayern Munich are looking to avoid consecutive last-eight eliminations when they host Villarreal, with Arnaut Danjuma giving Unai Emery's men a precious 1-0 first-leg lead.

Danjuma has six Champions League goals this term, with only Robert Lewandowski (12), Benzema (11), and Mohamed Salah (eight) managing more, and could prove the visitors' best outlet on the counter-attack.

Indeed, Villarreal will certainly require a resolute defensive performance in Munich, having conceded 22 shots in their surprising home triumph.

However, Julian Nagelsmann's side were uncharacteristically wasteful in Spain, and their four shots on target last Wednesday marked the lowest such tally managed by a team to attempt over 20 shots in the competition this season.

 

Bayern unquestionably have what it takes to turn the contest around, however, and haven't gone consecutive Champions League games without scoring since a 5-0 aggregate loss to Real Madrid in 2013-14's semi-final tie.

Lewandowski will carry the burden of rescuing the Bavarian giants, having already scored two European hat-tricks in Munich this season (against Benfica and RB Salzburg). Only Cristiano Ronaldo (for Real Madrid in 2015-16) has ever managed three trebles in one Champions League campaign.

If the Yellow Submarine can pull off a remarkable success at the Allianz Arena, Emery will progress beyond the competition's quarter-finals for the first time in his career.

But the omens do not make for great reading for the Spaniard. The only previous time a side of his won an opening leg in the competition's knockout stages (Paris Saint-Germain's 4-0 win over Barcelona in 2017), they became the first team to be eliminated after winning a first leg by four goals, falling to an incredible 6-1 away loss. 

Real Madrid should not be ashamed to be reliant upon talisman Karim Benzema, according to Los Blancos head coach Carlo Ancelotti.

France international Benzema has helped Madrid to the LaLiga summit, 12 points clear of Barcelona, who have played a game less.

The former Lyon striker also propelled the LaLiga giants into the ascendancy with his hat-trick in a 3-1 win against Chelsea in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final at Stamford Bridge.

Indeed, he became the first player to score a treble against the Blues in European competition as he joined Cristiano Ronaldo, Luiz Adriano and Lionel Messi as the fourth player to manage consecutive hat-tricks in the Champions League following his heroics in the last 16 against Paris Saint-Germain.

Only Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski (46) has found the net more times in Europe's top-five leagues in all competitions than Benzema, who has 37 goals to his name in as many appearances.

Ancelotti heaped praise on his star forward as he fielded questions over whether potential transfer target Erling Haaland would be put off Madrid by Benzema's exploits.

"What a question... I'm sorry, I can't answer," he said. 

"But I can say that Benzema is a modern centre-forward, in the past the number nine would get into the area and finish off whatever was going on there.

"Karim is what modern football demands in a striker, shooting, playing, defensive work, not giving away balls... It's the perfect representation of what a centre forward should be today".

Benzema and Vinicius Junior have formed a formidable partnership this campaign, with the duo combining for a competition-leading five goals in the Champions League.

Ancelotti referenced the likes of Los Blancos greats Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale as he pointed towards his new pairing as the stars of the show this season.

"The season says that there are two strikers who have stood out a lot, Vinicius and Benzema," he added.

"In the past we had Cristiano, Bale... To say that we are dependent on Benzema is the truth, there is no need to hide it. I am very happy to be dependent on Benzema".

Benzema has netted 11 times in the Champions League this campaign, the most by a Frenchman in Europe's premier club competition and as many as he had scored in the previous two editions combined.

He will look to add to that tally at home to Chelsea on Tuesday as Ancelotti aims to qualify for an eighth Champions League semi-final – the joint-most of any coach in history, along with Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola.

Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti prefers the day-to-day running of club management amid questions about whether he would take up an international role.

Ancelotti has guided Madrid to the summit of LaLiga, 12 points clear of a resurgent Barcelona, who do have a game in hand.

Madrid are also in contention to go all the way in the Champions League. Los Blancos are 3-1 up in their quarter-final against reigning European champions Chelsea heading into Tuesday's second leg.

While Ancelotti has Madrid on course for success this season, speculation swirls as to whether president Florentino Perez will stick with the 62-year-old for next season.

The failure of Italy to qualify for two straight World Cups has also brought Roberto Mancini's position into question, but Ancelotti – a reported option to take over as Azzurri coach in 2018 – prefers club football.

"I have thought about it, to train a national team," he told a news conference when asked about the Italy job. 

"To be honest I must say that I like the day-to-day of club football. The matches give you emotion and happiness.

"But there is of course the worry and the day-to-day stress – when I lose the desire for the daily work, I will stop."

The former Bayern Munich and Chelsea boss opted to leave Everton for Madrid at the start of this season, after guiding the Toffees to an underwhelming 10th in his only full Premier League campaign with them following a 12th-placed finish in 2019-20.

Everton were looking good to mount a challenge for Champions League qualification as late as March, yet only managed three wins from their final 12 top-flight games.

The Merseyside club are now fighting relegation, but Ancelotti said Madrid, who he coached previously between 2013 and 2015, were the only suitors capable of turning his head.

"With Everton, I was having a good time," he said. "Then Madrid called me and I can understand why [Everton] got angry, but it was difficult to say 'no'.

"It was the only team I couldn't say no to. To the rest, I could say no."

Asked whether he would be in charge in 2022-23, Ancelotti replied: "I hope so, but I'm not thinking about that.

"I'm not thinking about the contract. If the club is happy, I'm still happy. If not, I'll appreciate it, period. I trust at the end of the season, it will be good."

Carlo Ancelotti believes Real Madrid can win the Champions League but is braced for a tough quarter-final second leg against Chelsea.

Madrid hold a 3-1 advantage after defeating Chelsea for the first time in Europe and will be expected to finish off the job at in the Spanish capital on Tuesday.

Thomas Tuchel has conceded the holders face an almost "impossible" task in the Spanish capital, as they have to win by their biggest margin away from home in the competition just to take the tie into extra time.

No English side has ever won by more than a single goal at Santiago Bernabeu in the Champions League, making Ancelotti's team the strong favourites to make the semi-finals.

That would set up a meeting with either Manchester City and Atletico Madrid, but Ancelotti is not getting ahead of himself even if he thinks his team have the credentials to lift the famous trophy.

Asked at a pre-match news conference what Madrid were missing to be labelled as favourites, he said: "There is nothing missing, but nobody can say that they are going to win because the Champions League is very difficult.

"Not everyone can compete, you need a lot of quality, experience, personality. That's why I said that this team can compete."

Madrid are looking to become the first team to win both legs against Chelsea in a Champions League tie since Bayern Munich in the 2019-20 season.

But Ancelotti expects the Blues to come out fighting after Tuchel was critical of their display at Stamford Bridge last week.

"Everyone knows that it will be a difficult match, like all the quarter-finals in the Champions League," he continued. "Whatever happens in the first leg, you have to fight and compete.

"You have to be switched on for 90 minutes. We expect Chelsea are going to come out strong. I am lucky that my squad knows this type of match and what can happen. We won't go out relaxed.

"My squad is happy to play because it's a great opportunity to reach a semi-final."

Pressed on Tuchel stating it is an almost impossible task for his side to progress, Ancelotti said: "I don't know. They will come and fight despite it being difficult. They are a big team with a spirit that never gives up."

If Madrid do progress to the last four, Ancelotti will have made the Champions League semi-finals for an eighth time – the joint-most by a coach in the competition, along with Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho.

Guardiola will take his tally to nine if City get knock Atleti out.

Carlo Ancelotti praised Gareth Bale's professionalism after the Welshman was subjected to boos from sections of the Real Madrid fanbase during Saturday's win against Getafe.

Bale was a 74th-minute substitute during the 2-0 victory at the Santiago Bernabeu, completing four of five passes and hitting two shots, one of which tested Getafe goalkeeper David Soria from distance.

The 32-year-old has been a divisive figure in the Spanish capital, scoring crucial goals and winning four Champions League trophies in his time there, but he has missed a lot of football through injury in recent years.

Bale has also made it known he prefers to play for Wales than for his club, and is expected to bring his nine years at Madrid to an end when his contract expires at the end of the season.

Speaking to reporters after the game, Ancelotti refused to criticise the fans, but did praise Bale and insisted he will continue to play if fit.

"The fans are very important, such as against PSG," he said, referring to the recent dramatic 3-2 aggregate turnaround in the Champions League round of 16 against Paris Saint-Germain. 

"Bale has been whistled but he's a serious professional and if he's well, he can play."

Goals from Casemiro and Lucas Vazquez sealed the win, which restored Madrid's 12-point lead at the top of LaLiga, and Ancelotti was satisfied with his team's performance, but insisted the title race is not yet over.

"We're closer [to the title]," he said. "It's a good run but it's not over yet, we have to keep fighting, we have two away games now with Sevilla and Osasuna."

Los Blancos' next game is on Tuesday when Chelsea come to Spain for their Champions League quarter-final second leg, where Madrid will have a 3-1 aggregate lead.

The Blues warmed up for the clash with an emphatic 6-0 win at Southampton on Saturday, and Ancelotti remains wary of his former club, saying: "It will be a difficult game, we have to prepare it as if we don't have that advantage.

"Today, [Chelsea] won by many goals. We are going to have to be very focused."

Real Madrid secured victory against Getafe at the Santiago Bernabeu to restore their 12-point lead at the top of LaLiga on Saturday.

It was a relatively comfortable evening's work for Madrid, with Casemiro's first-half header and Lucas Vazquez's second-half finish sealing a 2-0 win.

Madrid controlled the game from start to finish, and Carlo Ancelotti was even able to save the legs of some of his key players.

The coach made four changes from the midweek Champions League win against Chelsea, resting Dani Carvajal, Ferland Mendy, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric with one eye on the quarter-final second leg.

Stamford Bridge hat-trick hero Karim Benzema remained in the line-up and had the ball in the net inside four minutes after a long pass from David Alaba fell kindly to him, only to see the flag go up for offside.

Madrid dominated the early stages but struggled to create chances, with Federico Valverde coming closest with a volley from a Benzema cross, forcing a tremendous save from David Soria.

The deadlock was broken in the 38th minute after Vinicius Junior put in a delightful cross with the outside of his right foot for Casemiro to head in at the far post.

The hosts knocked on the door for another soon after the break, with Valverde again going close with a free-kick from range.

But Madrid were made to wait until the 68th minute when Vazquez played a neat one-two on the right with Rodrygo before placing the ball with his left foot into the far corner of the net.

The visitors showed a brief glimpse of fight at the end, with Enes Unal hitting the post with an effort in the 90th minute, but it was merely a minor scare for the league leaders.

Carlo Ancelotti wants Gareth Bale to leave Real Madrid in a blaze of glory rather than with his reputation sullied, hailing the Welsh winger as a history maker.

Bale was a €100million (£85.3m) signing from Tottenham nine years ago during Ancelotti's first stint as Los Blancos coach, and with Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema he formed part of a thrilling front three.

The 32-year-old has already won the Champions League four times in Madrid, as well as two LaLiga titles, but in recent seasons Bale has been nudged towards the fringes of the squad.

Injuries have been a factor, and while Bale has been reliably brilliant for the Wales national team, opportunities in Madrid have become sporadic. He spent last season on loan at Tottenham.

His contract expires at the end of June, and Bale will be moving on. This season he has faced vicious criticism in some sections of the Spanish media, recently being dubbed a "parasite" in sports daily Marca, and there has been a danger of him leaving without any fanfare, or even amid a torrent of negativity.

Bale did not help himself when he paraded a flag bearing the immortal slogan "Wales. Golf. Madrid. In that order" after helping his national team qualify for Euro 2020.

Yet head coach Ancelotti says Bale, who could face Getafe in LaLiga on Saturday, is worthy of respect for his achievements in Spain.

He has scored 81 goals in 175 LaLiga games for the club, and has managed five goals and two assists in eight league games against Getafe.

In the Champions League, Bale has totted up 16 goals and 12 assists in 41 starts and 16 substitute appearances. That figure includes two crucial goals in Madrid's 3-1 defeat of Liverpool in the 2018 final in Kyiv.

The most recent outing from the bench came on Wednesday, late in the day as Madrid won 3-1 at Chelsea in the first leg of their quarter-final.

Madrid could yet win a famous double in Bale's final season at the club.

"Gareth Bale is fit right now. I'm sure he wants to show it here at Real Madrid," said Ancelotti. "It would be deserved and right for him to bid farewell to the Bernabeu.

"He expects confidence in him from us. He wants to finish his career at Real Madrid on a high note. We will see how it goes.

"He has already made history at Real Madrid with his games, his goals and his triumphs. He's a very respected player, and we want the best for him."

Karim Benzema was served a rich compliment when Carlo Ancelotti said the Real Madrid striker reminds him of the great Marco van Basten.

Madrid head coach Ancelotti told a news conference he also expects Benzema to remain a talisman for the LaLiga giants, even if the club bring in Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland before next season.

French striker Benzema has 10 goals in his last four games, boosting his total to 37 in 36 appearances during a remarkable campaign for the 34-year-old club captain.

It will not have escaped Benzema's attention that Madrid are engaged in long-term planning, with his France team-mate Mbappe thought to be their prime target.

Paris Saint-Germain frontman Mbappe and Borussia Dortmund's Haaland are the two hottest young properties in the European game, and it might not be beyond the realm of possibility that both end up in Madrid.

Asked how that might change Benzema's position in the pecking order, Ancelotti cast doubt on whether it should make any immediate difference.

"Considering Karim's age, and considering the fact over the past years he's been getting better and better, I don't think this situation will change," Ancelotti said. "I know he will continue to do well, and he's one of the most important players of this club. We will see what happens, but I'm sure nothing will change for him."

Ancelotti, whose Madrid side face Getafe on Saturday evening, was asked how Benzema compared to players he has coached in the past, including the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Didier Drogba.

This spurred the veteran Italian to mention Van Basten, his former Milan team-mate and a Dutch legend whose career was cruelly cut short by injury.

"It's really difficult to make these comparisons because we're talking about different eras and different people," Ancelotti responded.

"I think comparing him to Van Basten is actually a good comparison. I think they would both appreciate that comparison, Marco and Karim."

It remains to be seen whether Ancelotti remains at the helm with Madrid next season.

His team are close to securing the LaLiga title, holding a 12-point lead over Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, and a 3-1 win at Chelsea on Wednesday gave them a handsome first-leg lead in their Champions League quarter-final.

Benzema's hat-trick at Stamford Bridge should mean Tuesday's second leg is one that Madrid can safely negotiate.

Yet doubts exist and rumours circulate about whether Madrid are planning to stick with Ancelotti, who arrived ahead of this season after a stint with Everton.

Asked about his prospects, Ancelotti said: "I enjoy what I do every day. I love the atmosphere we have in the team and I'm 100 per cent focused on my work.

"When the season is over, we will evaluate everything, and we will make decisions."

He refused to give himself a mark out of 10 for his performance so far.

"I'm not giving myself any marks," he said. "I have to give it my all, and we have to wait until the end of the season to see if we are lucky enough and have enough quality to win titles, and then we will draw conclusions."

Carlo Ancelotti is as impressed by Karim Benzema's leadership and personality as his outstanding goalscoring exploits after another dominant Champions League display.

Benzema became the fourth player in Champions League history to score a hat-trick in consecutive performances on Wednesday.

The France forward netted all three Real Madrid goals in their 3-1 win at Chelsea in the first leg of their quarter-final, having also hit a treble against Paris Saint-Germain in the last-16 second leg.

This was the first hat-trick against Chelsea in any European competition and moved Benzema to 11 goals for the campaign – the most by any Frenchman in the European Cup or Champions League in a single season.

Benzema has 37 goals across all competitions in 2021-22, but the two headers that gave Madrid a two-goal lead at Stamford Bridge have to count among his best.

Now 34, Benzema has never scored more in a season – 32 in 2011-12 was his previous best – but head coach Ancelotti sought to highlight how important he is to the team in other ways. The striker wore the captain's armband in the absence of Marcelo on Wednesday.

"Karim improves every day like a fine wine," said Ancelotti, who returned to the touchline after testing negative for coronavirus.

"He's more and more of a leader in the team, in the group, and I think that's the biggest difference. He shows his personality more, he knows that he is very important to us and he is an example for all."

This was a fourth consecutive win in matches against reigning European champions for Madrid, but Ancelotti warned against complacency heading into the second leg in Spain.

"The team played very well, it was a very good performance. We were brave, we showed personality," he said. "But we are only at half-time in the tie.

"We'll want to have the same approach when we come back, but you never know how it's going to go.

"Obviously, we have the advantage, but the tie is still open. Without the away goal rule, it's an advantage for Chelsea.

"I think we played better than them on the night, but there is still one game and anything can happen."

Real Madrid will be boosted by the presence of head coach Carlo Ancelotti against Chelsea on Wednesday following his recovery from coronavirus.

Ancelotti contracted COVID-19 last week and was absent for Madrid's 2-1 win at Celta Vigo at the weekend.

The former Chelsea boss was also expected to miss a return to Stamford Bridge in the first leg of Madrid's Champions League quarter-final.

But a Madrid statement on the morning of the game announced Ancelotti was travelling to London to join his squad following a negative test result.

"Real Madrid C.F. is pleased to announce that our coach Carlo Ancelotti has returned a negative result for COVID-19," the statement read, "and will therefore travel to London this morning to join up with the first team."

Madrid, knocked out of last season's competition by Chelsea, will be looking for a first win against the Blues in six attempts.

This fixture sees the Spanish giants' worst winless record against any opposition in European competition.

However, no English team have previously eliminated Madrid from the knockout stages of the Champions League on multiple occasions.

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